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Ex-President Rajapaksa to contest from Kurunegala

In this July 1, 2015 photo, former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa arrives at his residence in Medamulana.

In this July 1, 2015 photo, former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa arrives at his residence in Medamulana.  

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However, Rajitha Senaratne, the Cabinet spokesperson who quit the previous Rajapaksa regime, maintained that the selection process of candidates was not yet over.

Former President and Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) leader Mahinda Rajapaksa will contest next month’s parliamentary election from the Kurunegala electoral district, according to Wimal Weerawansa, leader of the National Freedom Front, a constituent of the SLFP-led United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA).

Mr. Weerawansa made this announcement at a press conference here.

However, Rajitha Senaratne, the Cabinet spokesperson who quit the previous Rajapaksa regime in November along with Maithripala Sirisena, maintained that the selection process of candidates for the elections was not yet over and “till then, nothing is final.”  By Friday, a clear picture would emerge, he added.

Known for its predominantly rural population, Kurunegala is part of the North-Western Province. Out of 16.36 lakh population, the rural areas account for about 15.97 lakhs and women outnumber men with 8.5 lakhs. Electors in the district number 12.66 lakhs. The district returns 15 members including two through the national list.

On the rationale behind the selection, Udaya Gammanpila — leader of the Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU), another constituent of the UPFA — told The Hindu that during the January presidential elections, Kurunegala, being the third largest electoral district next to Gampaha and Colombo, polled more votes for Mr. Rajapaksa than for President Sirisena. [Mr. Rajapaksa got 53.46 per cent of around 10.5 lakh votes polled.]. He said Mr. Rajapaksa would submit his nomination papers on Monday.

V. Thanabalasingham, editor of Thinakural, a Tamil daily, says said Sinhala Buddhists constitute the majority and a large number of army soldiers, including officers, hail from the district.  If Mr. Rajapaksa gets the maximum number of preferential votes in the country by contesting from Kurunegala, the President will be under pressure to make him Prime Minister in the event of the UPFA being able to form a government. This would not be possible if Mr. Rajapaksa chooses his native district of Hambantota, whose strength of electors is about 4.63 lakhs.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 8:09:42 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/sri-lanka-expresident-rajapaksa-to-contest-from-kurunegala/article7404673.ece

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